Monday, June 25, 2007

Coffee Porter Bottled

This evening I bottled up the coffee porter. The final gravity was 1.013, and the coffee aroma to this one was fantastic! I got a full two cases out of this batch plus just a bit more. This so far was the best tasting of my homebrews at bottling time, so I hope that translates into the final carbonated product. I can't wait!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Rivertowne Pour House

I stopped by to visit the Rivertowne Pour House in Monroeville yesterday. It's just less than an hour drive from Indiana, and well worth the travel. They just opened last week, so I'm sure that they're running through the normal business opening pangs, but I have to say that the service on a Saturday afternoon during the US Open was tops! Great attention from the staff and they all seemed to know a lot about the beers (or weren't afraid to say they didn't know rather than trying to BS their way through).

Menu looked good, and I tried the Bacon and Cheese Fries. Tasty.

The beers? Well, they have 15 on tap plus one on beer engine. The full list is found on the web and there are samplers available. I tried several (10 to be exact) and was very impressed by the quality and range. Two fruit beers, two Impy stouts (one barrel aged), a pale ale, an IPA, a golden ale, a scottish ale, irish red, amber, ESB ... Wow!

All the ones I had were tasty, but the two imperial stouts (Buffalo Trace Bourbon Barrel Stout and Clavrock Imperial Stout) and the Wylie's IPA were top notch.

Check it out if you're in the area! Two great brewers working together can only be a good thing :)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Penn Microbrewers Fest

On Saturday, June 2, I drove down to the Penn Brewery in Pittsburgh with three friends and attended the Pennsylvania Microbrewers Fest from noon to 3pm. We were very fortunate to have been given some complimentary tickets from one of our local publicans, Tim McQuaide, who owns and runs The Coney. He couldn't make the event, and since he knows what a beer geek I am, he passed them on to me.

We arrived just at noon, so I dropped the guys off and parked down the street. By the time I got up to the gate, the line was finished so no waiting. I'd been to this event in 2002, and this was done a bit better. First, there seemed to be fewer admitted guests, so that cut down a bit on the lines and the heat. Second, they finally had rinse stations set up and since the event was in the parking garage, waste beer/water could be thrown right in the drains. Nice.

It was a pretty darned good showing of Pennsylvania's finest, along with some regional brewers from New York, West Virginia, Ohio, and even a few from Vermont and Colorado. (see the link above for full listing).

Unlike some other festivals I've been to in the past, I didn't try to get a bunch of ratings this time. Since I didn't pay for a ticket, I felt more like wandering around and chatting with brewers and seeing what was going on.

I did try Penn Brewery's Penndemonium, a doppelbock by label but really more of a heller Bock. Two others that I particularly enjoyed were Weyerbacher Muse and Southern Tier's Un*Earthly Double IPA.

I also tried two beers from Union Barrel Works, the Kölsch and the Doppelbock. Pretty good stuff. And finally a West Virginia Brewing Baltic Porter and Yards Saison. I didn't think much of this saison, really.

The neatest beer I tasted was a very raw and young beer from the Bullfrog that will be called "Black and Blue". It's a fruit beer made with blueberries and black raspberries. Just the small taste I had was extraordinary and I hope I can get the finished product when it comes out! Thanks Terry, for a taste (and thanks to Bill and Mark for cluing me in about it!). Everyone keep up the great work.

Coffee Added to the Porter

We are fortunate in Indiana to have our own coffee roaster, TJ Fairchild, who owns and runs the Commonplace Coffeehouse ( or The 'ipacoffee' is for Indiana, PA (not India Pale Ale - but it's certainly easy for me to remember!).

Anyway, TJ has been to a couple of beer-related events, including one of our Indiana Beer Club tastings and the Pittsburgh Microbrewers Festival. When I told him I was making a coffee porter for my latest batch, we got to brainstorming as to the best way to add some coffee to secondary. Most recipes that I've seen have you add some strongly brewed coffee to the secondary, rather than boil coffee with the wort. The downside, we both thought, is that a hot-brew method picks up a lot of tannic bitterness along with the good essential oils and might make for a more bitter contribution.

TJ came up with the Toddy Coffee press - basically a cold coffee extraction method that has you add cold water to ground coffee and sit overnight, then filter. So, this afternoon, I picked up a quart of cold-brewed Sumatran Mandheling coffee from TJ, brought it home, and (after a quick boil and cool) added it to the secondary fermenter.

I'm going to let that sit for 2 weeks and bottle it up. Can't wait to taste this one!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Porter Moved to Secondary

Well, I was a bit late on this, but I don't think it will be a problem. I racked the porter to secondary tonight and the gravity was down to 1.011 ... much lower than the 1.022 that I was expecting, so perhaps I won't have as much body in this one. Regardless, it tasted phenomenal. Just the right amount of bitterness and there was definitely some good notes of chocolate and coffee in there.

This week, I hope to add a quart of cold-brewed coffee in there to give it an extra coffee kick. Meanwhile, the secondary sits happily in the basement, covered in aluminum foil.

Friday, June 01, 2007

All Grain Coffee Porter

After a two-month hiatus in brewing (didn't brew in March, April), I was able to squeeze in a batch of all grain coffee porter yesterday afternoon. It was only my second batch of all grain, so I was still running into unforeseen glitches, but nothing that corrupted the beer - just took up more time than I was hoping for.

Last time, I used a bucket with false bottom for sparging, and I had done the mash in the kettle - applying direct heat for the different temperature rests. Well, this time I decided to try a modified picnic cooler and do a two-step infusion mash; it worked out pretty well! Catches this time included not getting the second infusion temp high enough, so rather than add more water, I scooped out several quarts of thick mash and brought to a boil on the stove. Voila! (I guess that'd be a partial decoction mash??).

Even though I made a dipstick for the keg this time, I still misjudged the evap rate. I had to add in two quarts of filtered water to get the five+ gallons I needed. Other than that, everything seemed to work well. I'm waiting for the bubbling to start.